The 11th film in the DCAMU (DC Animated Movie Universe), The Death of Superman takes just a little longer to get going than it should, but more than makes up for it with the best action sequences of the series to date and enough emotion to make the most out of the movie’s tragic finale.
Like the comic arc it’s based on, The Death of Superman introduces one of Supes’ biggest enemies, Doomsday to the world and concludes with the legendary battle to the death of two nigh-invulnerable beings from Krypton. The animated feature also spends a good deal of time with Superman before his “final” brawl, effectively raising the stakes and making us care more about the big blue boy scout. I think this was a necessary step because the DCAMU’s Superman wasn’t as likable as his previous incarnations at first. Instead of the brash and arrogant version we saw in Justice League: War, we get to see the classic, kind, and altruistic side of the Man of Steel this time. His relationships with the Justice League, Lois Lane, and even random citizens he had saved are also highlighted, which makes seeing them break down as they watch the titular demise even more impactful.
Now, I as much as I appreciated that build-up, I do think The Death of Superman could have used a little less. Not only that, but the whole subplot with Lex Luthor (played by Rainn Wilson, whose voice just doesn’t work with the character) felt hollow, and almost all of the scenes featuring other soon-to-be-supers felt like padding just to make it longer and set up the next films.
However, the action was worth the wait. Doomsday is easily the DCAMU’s best villain so far, the scope and brutality of his fights dropping my jaw more than once. This may be an animated film, but I’m still surprised Doomsday’s first kills managed to get only a PG-13 rating. And watching him effortlessly lay waste to everything in his path, including the heaviest hitters of the Justice League (minus Superman), establishes how absurdly powerful he is. This is the first DCAMU Justice League film where the villain isn’t surrounded by his own personal army, and it’s also the one where the villain does the most damage to the heroes, both physically and morale-wise.
With all said and done, The Death of Superman is worth watching for any DC fan. The retelling of the landmark story packs some of the biggest literal and emotional punches in any DC film to date, animated or live-action.